My family held one of its most diligently-adhered-to traditions this weekend.
We make homemade applesauce one evening every fall.
It’s really quite an operation, and we have a system after all these years. You wash the apples in the sink (usually a job for the kids) and send them to be quartered, where they’re then dropped into a crazy-hot pot on the stove. Once they’re soft, they go to the crank, and while someone pushes the apples down, the junk (skin, seeds, etc.) comes out one side and sauce comes out the other. Then we load up the bowls with sugar and a whole lot of cinnamon, put them in containers, label them “Metheny Applesauce 2013” and freeze them to give away. The whole batch lasts throughout the year.
It’s one of my favorite traditions, as it ushers in the fall season, gives us time to talk and laugh, and everyone has a role. Even if it’s just entertaining the little ones (or our new, beautiful, adopted puppy, Delilah. She’s a doll. You’ll definitely see more of her soon).
In every tradition, there is stability. There is the knowing that you’ll do it again and again and continue to remember that funny time last year when you made applesauce, watched “A Christmas Story” seven times through on TV or traveled across states to see friends for a week. Whatever your tradition is.
These are good things. They help shape who we are and what we value. We just can’t get stuck in them.
Isn’t it easy to be attached to these experiences? To esteem them so much as to disregard all else? Isn’t that why when Christmas falls on a Sunday, attendance is often low?
I’m learning that the ability to flex, to move, to do something different is just as important as the ability to stay right where we are. It can challenge us to not get stuck in our ways. For the stubborn, like me, this is healthy practice.
I know this isn’t always fun. As people change, traditions sometimes change with them, and the process can be disheartening. But it doesn’t have to be the end. So much more can define us than our traditions.
So while you have them, enjoy them. Create them. Make more. But perhaps try not to get stuck.